Mercedes-Benz makes HD Radio standard gear


mercedesiBiquity Digital says Mercedes-Benz is launching the 2014 S-Class with HD Radio Technology as standard in all vehicles.  The S-Class is now at dealerships across North America. It will also offer offering Program Service Data, which displays song title, artist and album name on the radio screen.

Said Jeff Jury, iBiquity Digital COO: “We are very pleased to achieve the key goal of North American standardization with Mercedes-Benz. With this expansion, Mercedes Benz drivers across Canada, Mexico and the U.S. have access to HD Radio Technology in their cars.  This coincides with our continuing efforts to bring HD Radio broadcasting to all markets across North America.  By offering the technology as standard Mercedes-Benz is ensuring that all their customers can enjoy the current services and be ensured of enjoying the coming all digital future.”

34 automakers have now publicly announced plans to incorporate HD Radio Technology in 170+ models by year-end with more than 80 models featuring HD Radio receivers as standard equipment.  Many of those automakers already ship vehicles equipped with HD Radio Technology into Mexico. There are already 13 stations broadcasting with the technology in Mexico City and 24 additional stations outside of the capital city in other areas of the country.  Nearly 30% of the Mexican population has access to an HD Radio broadcast already with more broadcasters planning to support the digital rollout in the future.  Canada is currently evaluating HD Radio Technology with many of its border cities already having access to HD Radio broadcasts from the US.

RBR-TVBR observation: While in-home and portable HD Radio receivers have not made a big dent with the consumer, it is with automakers. Eventually, it will likely be standard gear in all new North American cars as the price point goes down to the point where it will be just about the same cost as an analog-only OEM receiver. That will be important to broadcasters and advertisers because they will then be able monetize the HD2-HD4 channels as well as traffic, navigation, iTunes tagging, etc. It all boils down to critical mass. At the same token, the dashboard has become a battleground for the ears and eyes. HD Radio competes with SiriusXM, Pandora, AHA Radio, Slacker, etc. But unless you have an unlimited data plan on your smartphone, HD Radio is the only one that’s free to the consumer—as radio always has been.